The Greatest Gift of All
After every Christmas passes, I like to sit by the tree for a little peace and quiet, much like I’m doing now. I try to take everything in, you know, bask in what’s left of the Holiday. After 20 Christmases, I still can’t believe how fortunate I am. I mean seriously lucky. Completely and utterly blessed. My parents have always been so generous and provided us with so much. They’ve always made Christmas a wonderful time to spend as a family. I have been given a lot of gifts over the years, probably more than I should, but what’s The Greatest Gift of All?
Surprisingly, this gift is one that has never been on my Christmas list. I have never exactly asked for it. Wait – The Greatest Gift of All has fallen into my hands? I guess so. It’s never been wrapped in paper, under the tree, or opened on Christmas morning. I didn’t get it from Mom, Dad, Santa, or anyone in particular. I received it from anyone and everyone who has supported me or who inspires me or who challenges me. I might not even know who it’s from. Or I might know exactly.
The Greatest Gift is the gift of music. It’s the fact that my parents put me in piano lessons, and never let me quit. It’s the gift of recorders, bells, a lap harp, maracas, anything we could get our hands on as kids. They encouraged me to be in choir, band, private saxophone lessons, to try guitar. But more than that – Mom and Dad took me lessons, recitals, camps, auditions, concerts.. you name it, they were there. They selflessly provided the resources I needed to fuel my drive, my desire, my addiction to music. My family has been the vital support. Without them, I would never be the musician I am today.
This Greatest Gift is the instruction and dedication my teachers have given me. It’s the inspiration I receive from great musicians of yesterday and today. It’s every song or piece that has ever challenged me to play better, learn more, or appreciate more fully. It’s my band-mates, my friends, my audience. It’s the stranger who doesn’t even speak the same language, but it doesn’t matter because his language is wailing through his horn, exciting me to learn something new.
This Greatest Gift is the musical ability that a being greater than I has blessed me with. The talent that has been instilled in me. I don’t need to be a virtuoso to consider what I have the greatest gift. I’m so thankful to be able sit at the piano and play a happy tune. To sing sad tune. To perform a Christmas tune. What would I be without this form of release , expression, and creativity I’ve been given? The greatest gift is the calming, exciting, melancholy, joyous feeling that music gives me, every single day of my life.
I’ve always felt blessed because of all these things and opportunities I’ve been given. I realize that without all these components, I would be nowhere near the same person I am today. I also realize that it took a lot of luck, fate, who knows, combined with my passion, dedication, and curiosity in order to receive this perpetual gift.
This Christmas, I realized that music is The Greatest Gift of All, because it never stops giving. As you can see, I continue to receiving this gift every day. But, I can also give it back, which is what made me feel so strongly about the gift of music. I can simply play for my Mom while she prepares a fantastic Christmas meal (I’d rather entertain than cook any day). I can play Billy Joel for my dad. I can sing the cheesy-yet-fantastic ‘Africa’ by Toto in 3-part harmony with my siblings while my parents look on, amazed that their kids turned out this musical while they struggle to hold a tune. I can teach my little cousins how to play Happy Birthday and keep rhythm with the maracas. I am able to play a Chopin Nocturne for my 95-year-old Grandpa, until he is in tears, remembering his Mother playing the piano. Through music, I can evoke emotions in others that can’t be replicated, feelings that only music can create.
I might have mentioned this, but I have no idea how the stars aligned this perfectly for me. How I was born in this place, given this family who gave me these opportunities that allowed me to go these places and do these things? How was I lucky enough to receive so much music in my life?
Because the gift of music has been given to me, I hope that I will always be able to give it back.